VEO, which constantly has around 300 large-scale customer projects ongoing, has made significant improvements in project efficiency during recent years. The audience at Projektipäivät 2022 was keen to hear about VEO’s journey.
Jim Andersson, Manager Projects Industry at VEO, shared some appreciated information at Projektipäivät 2022, an annual Helsinki-based event where companies can meet and share best practices regarding project work.
“In 2018, we realised we had noticeable challenges with project efficiency, and we decided to hit the brakes. We needed to identify what had gone wrong and make sure continued growth was accompanied by profitability”, Andersson sums up the situation which initiated the journey four years ago.
To counteract the negative spiral, a massive development project called TOP3 was launched early 2019. The TOP3 project was made up of three subprojects, that is Sales, Project Management and Engineering, each with its own designated process owner and representatives. Andersson, who recently had returned to VEO after a decade elsewhere, headed the Project Management team.
“We realised we had to stabilise our foundation by improving the processes, tools and documentation used in project management and resource management. Unfortunately, there are no easy quick fixes; you must learn how to walk before you can run”, Andersson says with smile.
For a business to be efficient, it is essential that roles and responsibilities are clear – each team and each team member should know what they are responsible for. The development team created a working model that lets the sales manager sell, the project manager lead the project and the lead engineer run the engineering.
“This may sound obvious, but we had a situation where representatives from sales and engineering were too involved in the project management work and vice versa. This partly explains the unacceptably low billable hours”, Andersson explains.
Instead of people being involved everywhere, the necessary information is nowadays shared in stipulated project meetings. “We introduced a model clearly stating which meetings are mandatory during the various project phases, who should attend these, and what reports need to be made and archived.”
To allow for consistency, VEO introduced Project Online, a Microsoft-based project management system. The system, which has been tailored to VEO’s needs, provides easy access to timetables and documentation for the massive number of projects VEO manages. Around 200 projects are already up and running in the system and resourcing is currently being integrated to allow for further increase in efficiency. The project documentation, especially concerning change management, has been improved with updated and additional templates and instructions. In addition, VEO has put a lot of effort on the archiving processes – to make sure that the necessary documentation is found using the same logic in all projects.
“By following the same processes in all projects, we are automatically more efficient. Project managers have a key position int the smooth running of a project and we have therefore invested in increasing the skills of our project managers. As a result, VEO’s project managers will have the possibility to be IPMA C certified as of 2023.”
“Learn from your mistakes” is a common saying. Andersson and his team did the contrary – by closely examining projects that did work efficiently and pinpointing aspects needed to be made the new norm.
“When trying to increase the efficiency, it may sound contradictive to include a large number of people in a kick-off, but we noticed that projects where this policy was followed achieved the best results. This shows how important it is that everyone knows what is expected from the very beginning of a project. Again, it’s about building a solid foundation.”
Today, projects at VEO run more efficiently than ever before. However, Andersson is keen to point out that VEO is not resting on its laurels. In addition to closely monitoring themselves not to fall back in old routines, VEO still works on more efficient processes when it comes to, for example, on-site contractors.
Both existing and new clients rely on VEO, where the order book is as good as full for the foreseeable future.
“It’s a true win-win. By being more efficient, we are more profitable. But it’s not only VEO that benefits – our improved way of working also boosts our clients’ businesses. And as a majority of our projects are related to renewable energy solutions, we are also speeding up the green transition”, Andersson concludes.
The room was full when Jim Andersson, Manager Projects at VEO, entered the stage at the Projektipäivät 2022 event in Helsinki on 25 October.